At its June 2 meeting, the UCDSB Board of Trustees recognized the 215 children whose remains were found buried at the former Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia. “This news confirms what we had heard from Indigenous peoples over the years and was confirmed by the final report of the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.
There is a legacy of significant harm, loss, and lasting impacts brought by the residential school system for the Indigenous peoples of Canada,” said Chair John McAllister. “This is not what schooling is all about, and this is not supposed to be the end goal of schools. We are saddened by such a terrible loss and appalled by the failure of those who were in positions of responsibility and leadership who abdicated their duty of care of those who were vulnerable and innocent.”
McAllister reiterated what the UCDSB is currently doing to turn intention into action with Truth and Reconciliation, and due to the school board’s commitment to supporting the needs of Indigenous students and also to teaching all students about Indigenous history and experience, that the UCDSB received the second highest amount of Indigenous education funding of any board in Ontario, irrespective of size. McAllister then asked for a moment of silence in honour of the 215 children.
Trustees Approve 2021-22 Budget
Trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2021-22 school year budget.
The 2021-22 budget, as presented by the finance teams includes $385.8 million in funding and $385.5 million in expenses, with a projected year-end surplus of $0.4 million.
Budget highlights include:
a $48.9 million special education budget, which represents 12.8 per cent of the Board’s expense budget.
$1 million for mental health supports
$4.6 million for Indigenous Education supports
$1.2 million for ongoing remote digital learning supports.
$1.1 million continued investment in student technology.
$300,000 to support the Kemptville Apprenticeship Program?.
The school board also plans to invest $50 million in school and childcare capital construction, additions, improvements, and retrofits? Staff also created a $2.2 million contingency fund to support ongoing COVID-19 responses, including increased sick leave utilization, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other exceptional needs not covered by one-time provincial supports.
This funding is above the $4 million commitment the Ministry of Education has allocated to the UCDSB or ongoing responses to COVID-19.
Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement & Wellness Presented to Trustees
Staff provided an overview of how the UCDSB implemented its action plan for the Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement & Wellness (BIPSAW), which focused this year on learning recovery and renewal, student mental health and well-being, and equity.
Staff outlined items completed this past school year that focused on these specific elements, such as the development of a district-wide student success team that support learners and plan strategies for student success. Over a three-month period, this team connected with 150 students. The upcoming school year will be focused on return to school strategies for students that provide mental health and wellness resources for students.
Communications Department Reviews Past Year
Trustees learned about the communication strategies implemented by the UCDSB Communications and Relationship Management (CRM) team this year, and the goals for the coming year. Staff outlined how crisis communication dominated much of the work this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This work ranged from pre-planning for the school year to direct school support during the second and third waves of the pandemic.
While the CRM department created more than 140 pieces of communication related to the pandemic, the team also continued to share positive news and success stories to ensure the school board district sees all the good things happening within the school communities.
The CRM department also provided strategic communication planning, content development, marketing and program roll outs including the Level 1 Apprenticeship Program launch at the Kemptville Campus, the Fentanyl and Youth Live Events and This Is Us Video Series.